If you wanted to write the great American novel, you’d probably read a lot of Hemmingway or Twain. If you wanted to be a great painter, you’d study the masterpieces of Rembrandt or Picasso.
And if you want to be a great preacher, it’s no different: You’ll study the masters.
As I continue to grow in my preaching ability, I have made a habit of listening to a wide variety of preachers. And I’ve noticed something. Although every preacher is different, each one tends to fit into one of five “preaching styles.”
We are all called to preach the Word (2 Timothy 4:2). The message should never change. But we all communicate the unchanging truth of Scripture through the filter of our personality.
Preaching, as Philips Brookes famously said, is “truth mediated through personality.” This is why five preachers could all preach the same truth from the same text, and each sermon is different. The message is the same, but the personality is not.
God’s Word always takes priority over your style. But understanding your preaching style will help you see how your God-given personality influences the way you communicate His Word. And when you know your style, you can leverage your strengths, and avoid potential pitfalls.
1. THE MOTIVATOR
“God has a better plan for your life!”
The motivator is the preacher whose primary goal is to push their audience’s faith into action. They move from one point to another on stage with excitement, arms pumping, hands waving, reenacting every moment of a story. They love illustrations that tug on your heart and spur you to action.
After listening to the motivator, you are ready to charge the gates of Hell with a water pistol.
The common theme of the motivator is life change through Christ.
God has a better plan for your life. So keep going. Keep growing. Stop sinning. Don’t give up. Have faith. God will use you to change the world! The motivator points believers to the hope of the gospel, focusing on how God is at work within them to transform them into the image of His son.
The motivator has the innate ability to inspire their audience to action. They sincerely aim to follow James 1:22 in being “doers of the word, and not hearers only.”
The danger of the motivator is that they can easily fall into preaching a works-based righteousness. If so, people will begin to think that their standing before God is based more on what they do for God, not what God has already done for them.
If you are a motivator, use your contagious enthusiasm to inspire others. But make sure that you are leaning on the power of the gospel to motivate instead of an emotional frenzy to manipulate.